Mr. Farage, Come to Bulgaria to See You Are Wrong

Open Letter | January 28, 2013, Monday // 15:03| Views: | Comments: 13
Bulgaria: Mr. Farage, Come to Bulgaria to See You Are Wrong

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has renewed with a vengeance his criticism of Bulgaria in a bid to fuel fears over new immigrants, coming as of 2014.

Speaking last week on BBC's Question Time, Nigel Farage slammed Bulgaria as a country in a terrible state, where the judiciary is not independent and the mafia basically runs the economy.

On Monday Ralitsa Behar, a young Bulgarian lady, who lived and studied in the UK and chose to go back to Bulgaria and build a career here instead of the UK, circulated to the media an Open Letter to Nigel Farage.

Following is the full text of the letter:


Dear Mr. Farage,

My name is Ralitsa Behar and I am a Bulgarian.

I decided to write to you, because I was surprised by your comments on the BBC1's Question Time on January 17, 2013. As a person who is Bulgarian, lived and studied in the UK and chose to go back to Bulgaria and build a career here instead of the UK, I wanted to take a stand on your statement regarding Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants and explain why I chose to go back to my home country.

Firstly, I would like to introduce myself and explain my reasoning behind this letter. When I was 18 years-old and was finishing high-school, I decided to continue my education abroad and applied to several universities throughout the UK. I got offers from 4 universities, but finally decided to take upon the offer from the University of Edinburgh, studying BSc (Hons) Mathematics and Business Studies at the School of Mathematics. It was a very proud moment for me and my family, as at it was, and still is, one of the most elite universities, ranked number 20 in the world at that time.

I lived in Edinburgh for 4 years and finished my studies successfully, gaining a 2:1. I can say that I was one of the active students and tried to get the best out of my time in university. I was participating in university societies and their committees, I volunteered in a charity, raising funds for cancer research; I also spend 2 months interning in firm in London, and was later on offered a job position.

I have always appreciated everything that the UK has given me. Firstly, as an EU citizen, I was supported by the Scottish government and did not pay any tuition fee. This was a huge financial relief for me and my family, although we still spent over GBP 50,000 for living expenses. As a student, I was also entitled to free healthcare service, although thankfully I never needed it as much. I also appreciate the fact that I had the opportunity to live and study in one of the best places in the world – I find Edinburgh an incredibly charming and beautiful city with great atmosphere; and the University of Edinburgh – a truly astonishing institution with almost 500 years of history, with great teachers and amazing state-of-the-art facilities.

My strong connection to the UK is the reason why I decided to write this letter. Although I try and understand your immigration concerns, I must admit that I found your comments on Bulgaria untrue and somewhat insulting. In fact, they are only reaffirming my opinion of the wrongful idea that people in the UK and around the world have about countries in Eastern Europe.

I want to clarify, that I am far away from thinking that Bulgaria is doing as well as I hope it would be. I do not live in a bubble where I think that everything here is perfect – I understand our problems with our government, our law system, our education and healthcare systems. Living in the UK for so long only made me realise how much more we need to do, to learn and to grow to make our country better. Nevertheless, I have to disagree with some of the false information that you shared during your appearance on the show.

Firstly, the data that you stated on Bulgaria is untrue:

You said that the average monthly salary in Bulgaria is 200 Euro. According to the National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria, the average monthly salary in the country for the last quarter of 2012 is 754 Levs, which is 385.5 Euro, almost double the number that you said.

You said that the average monthly pension in Bulgaria is 100 Euro. The average monthly pension for 2012 is actually 138 Euro.

You said that almost 50% of the people in Bulgaria live in poverty, however, the number is untrue; it is about 27%, almost two times less.

I was very surprised to hear such false data as I was thinking that a politician as yourself would take the time to check this information, as it is easily accessible online in English.

Nevertheless, I must say that not only the untrue data that you stated on national television bothered me. I believe that statements such as "If I was a Bulgarian, I would be packing my bags now, wanting to come to Britain" are bold and somewhat inappropriate. And since you were focusing on the problems in our country and why we would choose to come live in your country, let me tell you why I chose to "pack my bags, wanting to go back to Bulgaria".

Firstly, Bulgaria is a country with great potential. I am a firm believer that young people, who study abroad should come back to Bulgaria to pursue their career goals. Having a degree from a foreign university, I realised that my know-how would be much more needed here, than in the UK. After all, we are the future of our country and I believe that we are the ones who can bring this country forward.

In this respect, I would also add that my knowledge was much more valued in Bulgaria. One cannot deny that there is fierce competition in the UK labour market and it is incredibly hard, even for young people with good education, to get jobs which will allow them to be financially independent.

Furthermore, I believe that Bulgaria provides much more opportunities for businesses. When in university, I wrote my dissertation on family businesses in Bulgaria since the fall of communism in 1989. One of the conclusions from my research was that there was, and still is great demand for the creation of small and medium enterprises in Bulgaria and one of the great benefits of doing this is the fact that we have the lowest flat tax of 10% in Europe and only a 5% dividend tax rate. Additionally, it is easy to quickly launch a nеw company in Bulgaria as the founding capital required is only 1 Euro.

I would like to say that with this letter I wanted not only to correct the false information that you stated on television; I also wanted to explain that not all Bulgarians and Romanians that come to the UK are "unskilled workers"; and even if they are, they also contribute to your economy. I also wanted to take this opportunity to invite you to visit Bulgaria as a guest of me and my family, so that we can explain to you how much our country has changed over the past 20 years and see for yourself the potential that we have to grow even more in the future.

Finally, I want to clarify that this letter was written with good intentions. I hope that it shed some light on the issues that you discussed regarding Bulgarian immigrants and I would be very thankful if I receive a reply from your behalf.

Yours sincerely,

Ralitsa Behar

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Tags: Romanians, Bulgarians, UKIP, leader, Nigel Farage, Bulgarian, Romanian, immigrants, UK, Britain, David Cameron, Prime Minister. Bulgaria, Romania, Independence Party, Ralitsa Behar
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» To the forumComments (13)
Mitko Pitko - 7 Feb 2013 // 01:54:31

This was a good letter, however, I wonder how many Britishers can spend 50,000 pounds on living expenses going to school, let alone Bulgarians!
Ralitsa is obviously from a very rich family and she wouldn't exchange her social and economical position in Bulgaria with that of a middle class Britisher.
In 1989 the Bulgarian population was over 9 million and now it's barely reaching 7 million people.
Just food for thought...

mut - 4 Feb 2013 // 10:26:06

please have a proper debate we have enough gutter press

bogomil - 30 Jan 2013 // 04:17:39

Grand daughter finished this university in Edinburgh, but worked hard there to pay her expenses, doing the work that the locals were too drunk and lazy to do..
She finished and left Britain for good, and left behind all of those jobs which the next wave of immigrants might possibly do because the natives can't be bothered, don't you know?

Hairydave - 29 Jan 2013 // 17:38:33

Bullying - really? How so? Since when has a reasoned debate become bullying? I have merely refuted your arguments with some of my own - that's debate. Try it.

madoods - 29 Jan 2013 // 17:31:42

Unfortunately, Hairydave, for some of us this is the reality and we do not need to read the British newspapers to understand the situation. It is sad when people feel the need to resort to bullying which diminishes the argument. However, I am happy for you that the situation in the UK has not affected you or your family. But remember that not everyone is so fortunate

Mat - 29 Jan 2013 // 17:06:56

Well, he's an idiot, but what he's saying is essentially true - you can quibble over the minor details about whether someone is earning 200 or 300 euro a month but the point is most people are extremely poor, the judiciary is total rigged and the economy is run by the mafia. And when the door is opened, people will pour out of here into the UK and I don't blame them.

If you're a little rich girl able to spend 50.000 pounds on living expenses in the UK you are not, quite frankly, a representative Bulgarian. If Mr Farage came to stay at your house he would see the Bulgaria lived by 0.001% of the population.

So I appreciate the sentiment that for the upper middle class of Bulgarian society life is actually very pleasant (especially if you have the benefit of a free degree under your belt), for the great majority it totally sucks ass.

Hairydave - 29 Jan 2013 // 16:57:01


Wrong on several counts. Firstly - English students have to pay in Scotland because of SCOTTISH law as much as EU law..In fact if Scotland were to become independent then the Scots would have to let English students study for free if they wished to be part of the EU. British students are entitled to tuition in another EU country on the same basis as a local student from that country would be entitled. Thus we can get free tuition abroad if locals can - I am told Denmark is a case in point (I haven't fact checked this - feel free). However EU students are not entitled to student loans for living expenses and so forth which are allowed to be reserved for "locals" only. (Local being defined as resident for three years or more before starting uni).

"UK taxpayers shell out ?53 million a day" - no the don't. This is the figure that we pay tot he EU, it doesn't deduct the sums we get back. After that you then have to work out the benefit of being within the EU (which is almost impossible)and deduct that as well. Look at how the pound has started to sink against the Euro again, some of which has happened because of Cameron's announcement about the future referendum (other reasons as well). this will drive up the cost of fuel. Factor that in to the equations along with a multitude of other less tangible indirect benefits and the ?53million figure is exposed as rubbish.

"our own elderly people starve" - because of a lack of understanding of entitlements. They shouldn't starve but getting people to claim what they are entitled to is difficult. system needs improving - undoubtedly - but this is not the fault of the EU.

"their families scattered to make way for people from other countries." - Really? I thought their families scattered because that's what happens in a mobile economy. Mostly to get in a better school catchment area or because of a career move. Most of the people I went to school with actually still live within 30 miles of there over 30 years later.

"Uk citizens cannot get the drugs they have paid for all their lives to treat cancer, while people from the EU can get free healthcare as soon as they arrive." - You make it sound like immigrants get free health care that British people can't. This is not true. In fact it's a stupid thing to insinuate. In fact they are only entitled to limited free health care depending on why they are here and so forth.

Stop reading the Daily Mail and The Express. They lie, they are trying to make casual racism acceptable. You're helping.

madoods - 29 Jan 2013 // 14:14:37

In a way though, this letter reveals why so many people in the UK are angry about the influx of people from other countries.
Firstly, Relitsa gets her tuition free - paid for by British taxpayers, while English students have to pay - incidentally British students do not get free university tuition anywhere in the EU either
Secondly, having made use of the generosity of the UK taxpayer, she returns to her homeland, which in itself is not a bad thing. If she uses her skills to improve the situation in Bulgaria, then it will have been worthwhile if only to help other young Bulgarians to believe that there is a future for them there.
However, UK taxpayers shell out ?53 million a day to pay towards the EU while our own elderly people starve, their families scattered to make way for people from other countries. Uk citizens cannot get the drugs they have paid for all their lives to treat cancer, while people from the EU can get free healthcare as soon as they arrive. There is much more to this than pure xenophobia and the British government needs to examine carefully their generosity with UK taxpayers cash before further influxes.

BILKO - 29 Jan 2013 // 13:29:13

Well what good reading, do I agree with what Ralitsa has said, YES. WE visit Bulgaria 4/5 times a year, we also have many many Bulgarian Friends and all our friends have jobs, work hard for wages that an English worker would not get out of bed for, we also have friends that Mr (Bigot) Farage would call Gypsy,s, that live on an amount of money for a month that an English family would spend in a week. How can Mr (Know Nothing) Farage comment on such a friendly, loving, kind, but Poor ( Capital Only ) people. We have been to 70 % of EU countries, but have never been made to feel so welcome as we are in Bulgaria. A quote from a very close Bulgaria friend, when asked it she would work in the UK, " We would sooner stay in Bulgaria, we have lived like we do now for so long, we would sooner live in Bulgaria and be Happy with what we have ". We now call our friends in Bulgaria " Our Bulgarian Family " And the warmth they show us on our Visits far exceeds anything in the UK. So Mr Nigel Farage, before condemning a Country and it People, visit Bulgaria, mix with the local, live as they do, and you will find nothing but kindness. I am British and proud of it, but sometimes people like you Mr Farage make me think???

pip - 29 Jan 2013 // 10:08:38

Dear Relitsa as a British subject & long term resident of Bulgaria, I must congratulate you on your letter, I agree with you on all points My niece,went to Edinburgh maybe it is Elitist but it does produce "La creme De La Creme",I came here to work as an archaeologist (Bulgarian Archaeological Association) at Archars Ratsiaria Site, maybe Bulgaria has problems, but I prefer it to the UK, your Open letter hit the nail on the head on all points the best way I can put it regarding UKIP is firstly he should check the facts before stating them on National TV, & also follow the Axiom "People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones"!!,.

peterperfect - 29 Jan 2013 // 10:01:20

This young lady deserves a medal. I am a UK citizen but am sick to death of the way the UK press and politicians speak about other countries. Do they realsie we are in a global world and they are reported around the globe? I do think though that this letter should also have been sent to Farage personally (as well) and I am just about to email him with my thoughts.

Thenonymous - 28 Jan 2013 // 23:37:33

Mr. Farage is an arsehole of the first order.
You will be lucky if you even get a civil reply to your letter and kind offer.

I would like to assure you that not all UK citizens think like Farage and his ilk. But because the media in the UK, (which has a long history of jingoism), are all too willing to play along because it sells toilet paper to the great unwashed.

The best thing to do would be to ignore him and hope that he goes away, but as he makes headlines on slow news days, the media isn't going to let him crawl back under his rock just yet.

Philippe - 28 Jan 2013 // 18:44:06

Courageous letter, the style of your father...

You make several points, but at the same time you have to realize that your 4 year period in the UK, may be interpreted in another way. You studied there, and afterwards you returned to BG, giving nothing in return to the UK. Mr. Farage will call you and on million possible other students "parasites" as he is not afraid to use strong words.

You better not invite him in the BG schools if he accepts to visit your country. Now that the minister and others had to resign for corruption...

btw, you also did not reply to his allegations on the ongoing corruption and the disastrous justice... Simple, you cannot. It is the truth.

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